Chapter 12 – Broadcast Writing Exercises 12 Simplify words

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Chapter 12 – Broadcast Writing


12-1. Simplify words

Broadcast writing depends on clarity and simplicity. One- or two- syllable words are better than those with three or more syllables. Substitute these words for simpler ones.

1. utilize

2. interrogate

3. purchase

4. necessitate

5. deceased

6. terminate

7. contribute

8. perpetrator

9. apprehended

10. incarcerated
12-2. Rewrite sentences in active voice

Good writers try to use strong verbs and active voice in print journalism, but broadcast writing requires active voice even more. Change these sentences into active voice and strengthen the verbs when possible.

Passive: The fire was started by three boys, police said.

Active: Police say three boys started the fire.
1. The food chain owned by Carrs may be purchased by Safeway Inc.

2. Two apartment houses on the east side of town were destroyed by fire this morning.

3. Addiction to the Internet is considered a growing problem among college students by many professors.

4. There are several reasons offered by psychiatrists for the appeal of the Internet to college students.

5. There is an accident at the intersection of Northern Lights Boulevard and Bragaw Street almost every month.

6. At least 30 homes were destroyed in the fire that swept the hillside.

7. There are going to be several students who will have to drop out of school if tuition is increased.

8. An Anchorage man was shot by police after it was discovered that he killed a moose.

9. The lottery was won by two students.

10. The getaway car was driven by a perpetrator whom police suspect had been involved in several other robberies.
12-3. Church embezzler

Copy and paste this information into a Word document. Then write a television news story from the following notes. First decide the focus of the story. Then write a lead, either direct or indirect, related to your focus. Write the story as a :20 (20 second) anchor on-camera reader, a story with no video, only the anchor reading on camera. Assume that these locations are in your community or substitute with your cities or towns. Use correct style for broadcast.

A trial has just ended in Johnson County District Court. The defendant, Ron Poteet, 26, 1010 Wellington Road, was caught pocketing monies from the collection plate at Presbyterian Fellowship Church, 2416 Clinton Parkway. Both addresses are in Overland Park (or your city). He was arrested on June 6 of the previous year. He had been entrusted with counting the daily donations and was sentenced earlier today (just after 2 p.m.) to three years in prison. That was his job since 1996.

The pastor of the church, Gordon Price, said yesterday that he had been impressed from the beginning with Poteet’s work and thought he was “extremely nice. Polite. Reserved. Gentlehearted. I assumed everything was OK. I was wrong.”

Poteet was caught when discrepancies between the amounts entered on the donation envelopes, and the actual amount of money contained inside the envelopes were noticed by another church employee. The investigation was then handed over to the police. In all, about $70,000 was taken by Poteet, although the exact amount isn’t known. Price said he debated a long time over whether or not to prosecute.

Poteet was sentenced in courtroom D by Judge Jane Shepherdson to serve 3 years and pay a fine of $10,000. He had pleaded guilty earlier. He made no statement to the court, either when he pleaded or was sentenced.

Exercise written by John Broholm, broadcast journalism professor at the University of Kansas.
12-4. Lumber fire

Write a brief “voiceover” story, a story with accompanying videotape, for this follow-up story. Follow-up stories run a day or more after the event covered to update viewers on recent developments. Your story will run on your station's 6 p.m. evening newscast. The fire happened in a small, nearby community, which received aid from the fire department at another nearby community. Your station was able to obtain videotape of the fire but no interviews from the scene, and your information comes from a wire story. The first sentence of your story will be “on camera,” and then the director will go to the videotape.

(DELTON) – Investigators continued to search for the cause of a fire last night that heavily damaged the Delton Lumber Co., while the lumber company’s owner worked to get back into business.

The blaze was fought by firefighters from Springfield and Delton as part of a mutual aid pact signed by the two cities.

A 4 p.m. meeting was scheduled for today by fire and law enforcement officials from Springfield and Delton at the Springfield/Hamilton County Law Enforcement Center to discuss the fire that destroyed two buildings at the lumberyard and a nearby historic railroad depot, which was used for storage by the lumber company.

No one was injured in the fire that began at approximately 8:30 p.m. in one of the lumber yard buildings, spread to the depot and burned brightly in the night sky until it was brought under control at about 11:00 p.m.

“We're just going to discuss the investigation and where we need to go from here,” Springfield Fire Chief Herman McMahon said today.

McMahon said he, Hamilton County Sheriff John Chavez, Delton’s acting police chief, Kenny Gault, and Larry Westerman, a Springfield firefighter in charge of the investigation, would be among officials at the meeting.

Dennis Salyer, lumberyard owner, said he hoped to be doing business in a limited way within one or two days, depending on how much the fire episode had disrupted power and lights to the lumberyard office, which suffered only smoke damage.

“We’ll do the best we can because we’ve got some contractor customers who need lumber for building projects,” said Salyer.

Officials haven’t determined the cause of the fire, which resulted in at least $200,000 in damage.

An official estimate of the damage is being withheld pending inspection by insurance adjusters, McMahon said.

Exercise written by John Broholm, broadcast journalism professor at the University of Kansas.
12-5. Acid arrests

From the following notes, write a short package news story, with an anchor intro and with your recorded voice delivering the main section of the story. Use one or two sound bites with news sources from the quoted material in the notes. You may substitute the names of your community for the ones in this story.

You have been told by Otto Privette, the regional director of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the arm of the U.S. Justice Department that is concerned with illegal drug trafficking, that the D.E.A., the F.B.I., and local law enforcement agencies in northeastern Kansas have seen a significant hike in arrests for sale and/or use of LSD. All told, there have been 10 arrests since the beginning of the year, up from just three all of last year, according to Privette, and the year still has four months to go. LSD was a popular hallucinogenic, countercultural drug in the 1960s. (Phone calls to local law enforcement offices confirmed Privette’s assertion of an increase in arrests.) Privette predicted 10 more arrests during the remainder of the year.

Privette said that overall in the Kansas City and Lawrence areas:

“More people are using acid, and we’re sure arresting more people these days. It’s a good bet we'll make some more arrests because we’ve got three investigators running down leads full-time. In a way it’s discouraging because there’s so much of the drug around, but I think we're making some headway on the problem.” (:12)

Privette said police in the region were looking to arrest manufacturers, sellers, and users, and they’re particularly on the lookout for clues leading to the apprehension of a probable local manufacturer of the drug. Privette said it was common for LSD to be manufactured locally.

Lynne Harris, who works for the state of Kansas as a counselor for juveniles who have been arrested on drug-related offenses, said police were arresting many teenagers on LSD-related offenses. She said the drug was popular with teenagers because it was relatively inexpensive and provided a longer “trip” or high than many other drugs. LSD manufacturers have always added one of many varieties of stimulant to the drug to accelerate its entry into and assimilation by the human metabolism, according to Harris. She said the intended purpose of the stimulant was to enhance the sensation of euphoria, or “rush,” caused by the drug. She said she didn’t know whether the strychnine contamination was for that purpose, or was simply a byproduct of drug production:

“A lot of the LSD we’ve been seeing has impurities in it. Now the drug’s dangerous enough as it is because it can really unhinge people who are already emotionally unstable. But once you add something like strychnine, you can wind up with some pretty toxic stuff. So it’s doubly dangerous.” (:10)

Harris guessed that if LSD was in Lawrence, it was also showing up around the rest of the country. He said that it was possible there was a manufacturer in Kansas, but that it took a fairly skilled chemist to make the drug, moreso than for metamphetamines, a manufacturer of which was recently discovered in Kansas City by police. Harris said that there were no local reports of the drug falling into the hands of children in grade school, although she had seen reports from elsewhere of acid-impregnated stamps showing cartoon characters.

You have the following videotape:

  • Privette showing you evidence bags containing LSD capsules, shot at Kansas City DEA headquarters (up to :30).

  • A group counseling session run in Lawrence by Harris, with six teen-agers who are recovering drug users, whose faces you can’t show on camera (up to :20).

  • The police testing lab in Kansas City, which determines the chemical makeup of confiscated drugs and material (up to :30).

Exercise written by John Broholm, broadcast journalism professor at the University of Kansas.
12-6. Brief news (Write a 15-second spot)

Write a brief 15-second spot (about five lines) based on this press release:

The Justice Club at (your university) will sponsor “Bringing Human Rights Home,” on Tuesday, November 10 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in Arts Building Room 150. Following a short documentary film featuring death row prisoner George McFarland and immigrant Jesus Collado, there will be a panel discussion with four panelists, and an open forum with the audience.

“Bringing Human Rights Home” will focus on the topics of the death penalty, immigrants’ rights, prisoners’ rights and habeas corpus relief. Speakers include Rich Curtner, Federal Defender for the state, and Robin Bronen, Director of Immigration and Refugee Services (Catholic Social Services Program).


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